Sturgis Man Sentenced to 15 ½ Years for Meth Trafficking Conspiracy

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Acting United States Attorney Dennis R. Holmes announced that a Sturgis, South Dakota, man who pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance was sentenced on July 28, 2021, by U.S. District Court Judge Karen E. Schreier.

John Thornberry, age 24, was sentenced to 15 1/2  years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

John Thornberry was indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance by a federal grand jury on September 17, 2020.  He pleaded guilty on May 7, 2021.  The defendant was stopped by law enforcement in June 2020 and found in possession of multiple firearms.  He was prohibited from possessing those firearms, which he forfeited as part of his plea agreement.

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During his involvement in the conspiracy, methamphetamine was brought to South Dakota by others.  The defendant then dispersed methamphetamine to others for use and further distribution, primarily in the Rapid City area.


This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. 

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This case was investigated by the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET), Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  UNET is comprised of law enforcement from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, South Dakota National Guard, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn N. Rich prosecuted the case.

Thornberry was immediately returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

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